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What form of butter, a seemingly subtle ingredient, has the most developed potential for flavor?
Cultured butter differs from so-called sweet butter in its amplified flavor and tang created when fresh cream is seeded with lactic cultures and allowed to “ripen” before churning. Fermentation produces the aromatic compound diacetyl, which imparts buttery and milky notes, magnifying the inherent flavor already present in butterfat.

How can I use cooking method to intensify the qualities of sweet potatoes?
Baking sweet potatoes in their jackets in foil packets, caramelizes the sugars, concentrates the flavor, and creates a luxurious texture (we perceive the “mouthfeel” as all the more satiny because of the sweetness!). Moist varieties, such as deep orange-colored Jewel and Garnet sweet potatoes, convert 75% of their starch to sugar when cooked, becoming super syrupy.

Without olfactory feedback, I sometimes forget there’s something cooking as soon as I walk out of the kitchen. How can I equip my kitchen so I feel more secure?
A Dutch oven is my failsafe piece of equipment. An enamel-coated cast iron pot with a cover, it facilitates slow, even cooking with much lower risk of burning or scorching the contents I may leave unattended.

*The sweet potatoes for this recipe—as forgiving as they are—can be baked in a Dutch oven with gorgeous results.

What food ingredient would make a good addition to my smell-training practice?
Beets have a bold, saturated color, sweetness and crunch that actively engages our senses. But we’re also keenly sensitive to their muted scent—suggestive of earthy, clean, organic matter. That’s the smell of geosmin, also the molecule responsible for the archetypal earth-essence smell of wet ground after rainfall. Humans can detect geosmin in extremely low concentrations. I added beetroot powder (found in health food stores) to my smell-training kit very early on.

Sauerkraut arouses my appetite and satiates my hunger. Why is it so satisfying in spite of my smell loss?
Fermentation releases the full umami potential of cabbage (a good source of glutamate) with its rewarding ability to linger on the palate. Raw, unpasteurized curry kraut is a superstar sensation-wise: from “savoriness,” to sour and salty, to crunchy and effervescent, to its brilliant yellow color, fiery red chilies, and aromatic seasoning. HOSTA HILL makes some of the best krauts on the planet—each variety in unique, vibrant technicolor.